Lori Williams started offering child care from her home when her son was about a year old. He’s 30 now.

“I had planned to go back to work as an insurance agent when he started school,” she said, “But I found I loved being at home and I loved working with children.”

Williams operates Treasures of the Heart child care program from her home in Maple Grove. She started with 5 – 6 children. Over the years, that number has grown to 10-12.

Williams came from a large family and her mom stayed at home. “I think I took after her,” she said. “She was a great mom. Very organized—which I think is one of the crucial abilities in child care, along with being very loving.”

Williams also has a 21 -year old daughter who is going to school to become a teacher and currently works at KinderCare. Williams lost her husband to cancer 12 years ago. Her now significant other heads a department at a medical company that is making ventilators and respirators for the world.

Four of the six families that Williams serves have a parent considered to be an essential worker. “I never thought about closing,” she said. “Every family that I have tells me they are grateful that I am open.”

On some evenings and weekends, Williams has been helping out other families that need to work because of COVID-19, but don’t have anyone else to care for their children.  She cleared this with her regular families beforehand.

“That was important to me,” she said. “My families trust me and I wouldn’t want to change that even if it meant turning people away.”

Williams did receive a Peacetime Emergency Grant from the state and it “helped a lot” to cover expenses.  She said some of her families were really struggling and she was able to use those emergency funds to pay it forward by reducing fees if necessary or giving families more time to come up with tuition. Williams says she has always been on the low side of rates because she doesn’t want to make it difficult for young families to pay for child care.

“I’m blessed that I get to keep doing child care, and grateful for the funds I received from emergency grants,” she said.

Williams is of course worried that someone she loves or cares about will become ill with the virus, but she is keeping busy and doing all that she can to make sure the children in her program and their families are safe. She says families have so much on their minds already and adding the pandemic to that makes for worried and tired parents. She says children need to feel secure and their parents need time to work and destress so when they pick up their children they can concentrate on enjoying them.

“Family child care is so, so, important always, but especially in times like this,” she said. “Families need to have safe and loving homes to bring their children to when they need to work.”